Posted on Wed 19 Jun 2019 at 11:01 by Christopher Carter
During the 2018 Autumn Term, we passed a motion at the All Student Vote which mandated me to look into the reduction of Library fines. The resolutions of the motion said that we should explore the possibility of moving to a system which only fined Library users for books that were overdue and had been requested by another user.
In theory, fines act as a motivator for students to return their books on time and ensure a good circulation of stock. However, if no-one is requesting the book, that supply-and-demand argument has less weight, and it seems an unnecessary financial burden on students to fine them when no-one wants the book. A number of universities have alternative mechanisms to ensure stock circulation without using fines, and I’m pleased to say that now Warwick is looking into it too.
I have been working with the Library for the last 6 months on this, discussing the possibility of removing fines and what this would look like in practice. Some elements of the proposals have been simple - it is definitely possible for books on Standard Loan to have their fines removed unless another user has requested them, with the books being automatically renewed in the meantime. Other issues have been more complex – for example, how this policy works for 3-Day Loan books, how vacation loans should work, and what a loan period should be.
While this is unfortunately not quite as simple as one might hope, it has definitely been worth looking into! The Library team and I have mapped some of these questions against their various complexities, and are committed to developing a simpler system that works best for everyone while ensuring that stock is circulated and students aren’t fined unnecessarily.
What started as a need to remove unnecessary fines for students has subsequently turned into a wider discussion about how our Library really works when it comes to books and resources. We are now getting to the stage where we would like to consult with students and departments on how best we could develop a new approach. This will include looking at reading lists to ensure that the books held in 3-Day Loans are the right ones, discussing what loan periods should be, and how renewals should operate.
These discussions will occur during the next academic year - so, when they do come around, I implore you to get involved and have your voice heard. Watch out for more info during 2019-20!